With South Africa experiencing a drought and the Western Cape running out of water people have started to take precautionary measures such as purchasing containers and tanks to store water. Start your own business buying and selling water containers and tanks.

Different types of containers and tanks
There is essentially two different types of containers popularly sold, one that is “food grade” which houses drinking water the other non food grade to store “grey” water: collection tanks that collects rain water and other waste water and is used for everything besides human consumption: watering the garden etc.

Food grade / safe
Bulk food safe containers start at 20l containers (called polycans) and buckets and go up to 25l to 30l. Both buckets and containers can have a plastic tap attached (when purchased complete with tap it’s usually called a “dispenser”). It is best to sell this type of containers with a tap for ease of use.

Polycans

Polycans

Then you get 50l – 70l plastic “Jerrycans” this can also hold food grade water and has a tap. You can use some of the larger tanks mentioned below for food grade especially the 100l blopak and even 1000l, but the others are mainly used to collect and store rainwater.

Blopak

Blopak

Non food grade
Non food grade usually starts at 100l up to 250 drums (aka blopaks) which can be cut open at the top (if not already) and be left outside to collect rain water which can be used for cleaning or other non food items. You don’t need a tap here as you can just dip a jug in. Then you get the larger tanks like the 1000l flobin and the Jojo tank water storage solutions which have a capacity of 2200 litre (and larger) and cost a few thousand rand. You also get a smaller Jojo water tank (750 liter) capacity which comes with various “attachments” (tap or spray/sprinkler).

Flobin

Flobin

Water tank

Water tank

If you have the money and transport, you can by all means do the larger tanks such as the Jojo, Eco and similar. But I will be looking at the smaller solutions that are easier to start with: Polycans, buckets, blopaks and maybe if you have the transport means the flobin.

You won't be able to transport large water tanks if you only have a car

You won’t be able to transport large water tanks if you only have a car

Business model
The business model is a simple retail model: buy -> add markup -> resell. I have seen people selling 2nd hand polycans and blopaks at 100% markups. Where you buy is important: if you doing food grade you can decide whether you want to sell new and/or secondhand. Secondhand ones would usually have used for bulk food items in catering such as pulp used in fruit juices etc. Do not sell secondhand non food grade containers as food grade as it might have contained chemicals before.

Once you have decided to sell new or used, this will determine where to source. New you would have to deal with manufacturer or distributors. Secondhand you can look around at companies that use these containers in their business but understand this: due to demand plastic containers in Cape Town and surrounds may be hard to get from a user from as they already have their buyers and sell at a premium, if you know someone that often travels from other provinces and has space available you can buy in other provinces and resell in the Western Cape.

The market
I’m not sure what is happening in the Western Cape but it looks like people are either going to have to use multiple smaller food grade containers for their water as well as bigger tanks for other use. So the Western Cape is definitely the main market right now.

There will also be a booming purified water trade in the Western Cape during this period as there is no way some people in the upper avenues are doing to drink water collected from a military checkpoint.

Start Your Own Purified Water Business

Purified water is drinking water (from a tap) that has been purified, various impurities removed, bottled and resold. While purified water has various uses in industry and in various manufacturing processes I will be looking at it from the point of selling the water for human consumption.

Marketing
This products can be sold to every household in the Western Cape, I have seen people sell on Facebook and Gumtree. I have heard of some products where demand is outstripping supply, there will be steep increases – even price gouging – as we get closer to “day zero”. 100% markups is common at the moment, buy the smaller polycans for R25 sell for R50, the larger blopaks can be bought for R250 and sold for R500. If you have patience you can start buying now and hold and then sell at a bigger premium, that is if we don’t see a miracle and nobody will need the containers then.

There are some players in the game, I don’t think we have reached saturation point yet, as many people are not taking the water shortage seriously. You have to understand, most if not all people alive today have never encountered a water shortage like the one in the Western Cape where there is talk of having to collect water at collection points manned by the military. And I think many will not believe it until that day arrives.

As someone that has lived in Cape Town for over 30 years I find the whole thing comical to be honest but like in the security, healthcare and education industries there is money to be made in government incompetence.

Image credits:  trademe, kerrimuir, Bidspotter, IndiaMART

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A buying and selling business is one of the easiest businesses to get into; it requires little skill (besides basic mathematics) and can be started with very little capital. There are two underlying components to a successful buying and selling business: 1.


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